Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Editorial: Labour Rules The Empire With Bombs and Bullets. (1924)

Editorial from the August 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

The repeated use of bombs in Mespot by the Air Force since the Labour, Government came into office is another item in their black and brutal record.. It shows how willing they are to do the dirty work for the capitalists in maintaining their ownership and control. Under the Conservative Government bombs were frequently used to aid in compelling payment of taxes, but, of course, that was "the dirty method of the Capitalists.” How similar the rule of the Labour Party is was admitted by Mr. Leach, the Labour Minister, in the House of Commons in answer to a Tory question. He said :—
  We communicated with our military and air headquarters in Iraq in regard to the whole situation in bombing operations, and 1 cannot honestly say that we have made any change in the policy of the late Government.—(Parliamentary Debates, June 30, column 925.)
This "pacifist” minister defends bombing as a humane method and tells the Daily Herald (July 15) that it is "a great saving to the taxpayer,” as military forces cost more! In the language of an Empire Builder, he talks of the necessity to stop the tribesmen fighting, so that the land of oil annexed to "our Empire” shall be a sweet land of peace and profit. Therefore, the Labour Government is suppressing all attempts at rebellion by the kindly and Christian use of bombs.

This rule of force in the interests of Capital is shown also by the shooting down of Indians under this Labour Government.

In April the brutal exploitation in the cotton mills of Cawnpore drove the workers to strike and on the grounds of "law and order” the police were ordered to fire on the strikers. Three strikers were killed and 34 injured.

In .March the cotton slaves at Bombay were on strike and the firing on the strikers is thus described by the Daily Herald (April 7-24) :—
    It is stated in responsible Indian circles that the conduct of the strikers had been exemplary, that no magistrate was present, and no adequate warning given when the firing began and that the police did not as usual fire in the air first, but directly at the crowd, and that schoolboys taking no part whatever in the demonstration were killed.
Within the period of six weeks the third case of shooting took place at Jaito upon a crowd of Sikhs engaged in their religious ceremonies and since then no Nationalist or Indian journalist has been allowed to enter the locality, according to the Herald (April 7).

This brutal rule under a Labour Government takes place in a country where Ramsay MacDonald tells us (The Awakening of India) "only the faintest glimmer of trade unionism is streaking his (the Indian’s) horizon with light.” On the Prime Minister’s own showing, therefore, the working class are very weak in union organisation in India and the bloody efforts to kill it altogether under "Labour” Rule is clear evidence of the Labour Pity’s work for Capitalism.

The shooting and bombing of "natives of the Empire" is strictly in accord with the policy of Imperialism. The Labour Party’s work to maintain Capitalist rule is on a level with the Liberal and Conservative policy of the past. Every worker, therefore, can take note of the Capitalist nature of the so-called Labour Government, as clearly shown by their deeds.

If Mespot and India are not enough evidence of Empire under "Labour,” the Colonial Secretary, Mr. Thomas, supplies a further example. When the "hero” responsible for the massacre of strikers on the Rand, Mr. Smuts, was defeated, Thomas eulogised him to the skies. Said our Labour Colonial Secretary: "There is no man more entitled to our gratitude and appreciation than General Smuts” (Daily Herald, June 20). The day previous the Herald had to confess that Smuts was responsible for the slaughter of 300 natives by machine gun fire in 1921, the bloody suppression of the Rand Strike in 1922 and the Bondelswarts massacre in 1923.

Such is the hero worshipped by Labour’s choice! The Labour Party, pacifist and militarist, Fabian and I.L.P. combined, are once again shown to be the enemies of the working class. And “Communist” place seekers and vote catchers are supporting the Labour Party! Even after the slaughter referred to above has been made public we find Walton Newbold, of the Communist Party, declaring, “The more I have seen of the Labour Party, the more I have liked it.” (Forward, June 14, 1924).

The Socialist Party is not like the Communists "out to steal the Leadership of the Labour Party.” We are out for Socialism, and therefore stand for the capture of political power by a Socialist working class. Then, and only then, will the butchery by Capital and its Labour agents be impossible.

The Conflict between Anarchism and Socialism (1924)

From the September 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

Idealism and Materialism.
The confusion in people’s minds about anarchism and Socialism continually calls for a discussion of the subject. Whilst to many capitalists they are identical, to others Anarchism is the noblest ideal ever inspiring the minds of men, and Socialism is considered as “the coming slavery.” Many so-called Socialists styling themselves “advanced,” say that Anarchism is the highest expression of Socialism. They say that we are on the same road. That is true. But we are travelling in opposite directions. The Socialist is going forward along the road on which the human race has evolved. The Anarchist goes backward to individualism and petty enterprise. Is that clear?

Socialism is not the result of schemes and dreams. It is but a convenient name for the stage in social evolution made possible and inevitable by the economic tendencies of our time. It is not built up out of vain yearnings and longings for liberty, equality and fraternity. It seeks to adapt the methods of owning and enjoying wealth to the co-operative system of production already reached by economic advance.

It is hard to define Anarchism. Each Anarchist claims to be a law unto himself. The essential feature, however, is the demand for absolute liberty: (See Kropotkin’s Conquest of Bread.) Anarchists claim that the State, Law and Authority were invented by the rich to rob the poor. They believe in free agreement by groups to live in their own way. They denounce majority rule, representation, voting, and many other methods which the human race evolved in their upward march and struggle for existence. Anarchists criticise the present system and also Socialism from the standpoint of a Utopian dreaming of a perfect society. In their wild tirades against Law and State they ignore the place these institutions have in social development.

The Lessons of Evolution.
Free agreement amongst a number, of people is useful, but absolute individual liberty is impossible. To reject the necessity for majority rule under all conditions is ridiculous.

Humanity has to live. The necessaries of life must be continuously produced or we starve. Anarchist ideas of waiting till men and women in local groups come to a complete agreement about production and distribution will cause, starvation and misery in the meantime.

The hopes of Anarchists, sincere and high though they may be, ignore the past results and present trend of economic life. Society advanced out of the primitive condition of savage man by combination; by association in their contest with nature and animal. From a tool-less animal man progressed step by step until the power to control natural forces gave him a larger, wider vision and impelled him to discover institutions to regulate and harmonise social life. The steady improvement in tools and association gave men the power to feed, clothe and house vast societies. Earlier, simpler, localised methods could not do this. Association in working the huge machinery and operating large factories, running railroads and sailing ships inevitably increased the wealth of the world. Modern machinery and centralised production is an advance. Let Anarchists deny it. Whilst this cooperatively worked industry is under individual and class ownership it breeds poverty among plenty. Socialists, therefore, seek to commonly own and democratically control that which the workers commonly produce. Is that plain?

The Great Divide.
Anarchists reject democratic control of the instruments of wealth. Some of them believe in individual ownership, others hold to common possession. They all demand, nevertheless, that the individual should control. How can die instruments of production commonly owned be individually controlled? Anarchists are silent on this point. Free agreement and absolute individual liberty cannot provide for the unceasing daily necessities of an international population, always growing.

Socialists study history and find that the material conditions, the forces used in social production, the natural and social surroundings of the population, form the foundation for the life of the people. Methods of ownership, exchange and distribution, depend upon the kind of material conditions existing. Ways of government, states of law, and all the political and civil regulations of humanity follow from the industrial habits and economic institutions of men. To denounce the State, the Law, and the social institutions because they do not fit in with some ideal principle is good—for the poet. But it does not help to change society.

The Socialist knows that many things called “bad,” and most institutions called “evil,” once served society as methods of advance. Anarchists from Stirner to Goldman indict the entire past of the human race as wrong, forgetful of the truth of evolution that what is “bad” and useless now was “good ” and useful at some previous time. The materialistic explanation of history involves the truth that a given system of production leads to a definite and corresponding method of distribution and ownership. Hence, the common ownership of the resources of life cannot be controlled by varying and conflicting individuals at their own sweet will, but must be democratically controlled by and in the interest of the whole working population. In social and therefore important matters the majority must decide if all do not agree.

The Philosophy of Destruction.
Such a Utopian ideal as Anarchism leads to peculiar results. If majority rule is wrong in principle, the overthrow of the few (the owners) by the majority (the workers) is also wrong. So we are condemned to wait till the whole society, parasites and producers alike, can reach a common mutual agreement. What an Anarchist farce! The sweet and beautiful expressions of freedom running through the pages of idealists sway the sentimental man and woman. Sentiment is a fine thing. But it is no substitute for knowledge. Sentiment by itself is a fine ally of our masters, for it does not need education and study. And it is used by the so-called patriots and clergy to chain us to the slavery of to-day.

“The State and Government must be immediately abolished,” Anarchists say. They accuse Socialists of believing in these institutions. Socialists are directly opposed to every agency of privilege and every office of domination. But unlike the Anarchists we realise that a central authority arose when the division of labour took place and it filled a useful function in the life of primitive but progressing society. The administration of affairs and the regulation of civil life was its chief function. Private property and class division gave rise to a State machine controlled by each ruling section in turn—chattel slave owner, patriarchal lord, feudal baron, or industrial capitalist. Knowing how these institutions have grown out of and adapted themselves to each period of society, we do not demand their instant abolition. They are part of the existing society and to remove them we must change the economic and social system as a whole. The uprising of Anarchists supported by Madame Breshkovsky, Peter Kropotkin, and others in Russia, demanded the abolition of government—at a time when centralised control and nationwide action could alone save the suffering workers from starvation and slaughter by the advancing bourgeoisie. Anarchists being Utopians and idealists believe they can cut off parts of this system as they think fit. They do not realise that the modern State, Law, Authority, Police and Punishment are but the results of class rule and are integral parts of a rotten system. Rotten because it is over-ripe economically.

Anarchism and Democracy.
Anarchists pour their bitter venom upon every form of representation, voting, delegation, etc. Blind to the fact (as Morgan shows of the Iroquois tribes) that it took ages for the human race to progress to these surer, safer, and advanced methods of conducting social life. They had a function and have one yet. Anarchists say an individual should be the master of his life and no one can represent him. This is nonsense. Only little, loose groups could live in this way, and even they would soon expediently forget their principles. A great population cannot carry on a society by the whole population meeting together to argue and discuss until everybody agrees. In the meantime men must live. Representation is therefore a good servant.

Democracy is not what Anarchists and capitalists imagine. It means more than holding up hands or saying “Aye!” To open all channels of knowledge and information, to give everyone leisure and a chance to understand and learn of the facts of life, to offer to all the advancement modern “democracy” keeps for a‘few— this is the social and political expression of democracy. When men vote and discuss and delegate their opinions under these conditions they will know what they are doing. And then, if all do not agree, social matters can be decided by majorities until the minority convinces the majority.

The Intellectuals.
Emma Goldman in her book on “Anarchism and Other Essays” says the majority is always wrong. The Anarchists, therefore, will either rule with a minority or be wrong if they become a majority. She further states the great mass of the people never were and never will be the ones to progress. Just the intellectual few. Such views mean that the great body of the people will depend upon the kindness and wisdom of the Anarchist intellectuals to guide and mother us. All Anarchists hold to that opinion. Socialists, however, understand that the emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself. Unless we can convince and convert the majority of workers, Socialism is an idle dream. If you bring about a revolution with an ignorant, uninformed or hostile working class, defeat sooner or later faces you. Judge, too, the value of these self-styled intellectuals by their gymnastics on the war.

Kropotkin in Russia, Herve and Benj. R. Tucker in France, Clarence Darrow in America, Owen in England, are examples of the ease with which critics of the common herd join with it to become popular.

Anarchism Kills Organisation.
These reactionary ideas follow from their conception of the all-importance of individuals. They believe society is just a collection of individuals, not an organic whole as Socialists and all scientists understand. Many Anarchists reason from this that the removal of certain individuals will change conditions. Propaganda by deed follows from their false sociology. The absolute liberty of the individual and supremacy of the ego kills the spirit of organisation. The workers cannot be organised unless the give-and-take, policy of democracy is used. The individual will must express itself through the common will. Anarchists, therefore, have never attempted to organise the working-class. They shout general strike and insurrection without teaching the masses the economics and history of the system. The fallacy of the general strike rests upon the fact of the workers being propertyless and faced with starvation if they all leave work and the tools in the masters' hands. Their objection to political organisation is based upon the. supposed failure of political action in the past. But the toilers have never used the power of politics in their own interest The chief reason why men become Anarchists is the sickening fraud and failure of those compromising and reforming parties which pose as Socialist. The real science and policy of the teachings of Marx and Engels have never been answered by Anarchists. They waste their time fighting shadows and attacking effects, not causes. Anarchism appeals to sentiment and needs little thought or study to succumb to its plausible appeal.
Adolph Kohn

50 Years Ago: Scarborough Follies (2017)

The 50 Years Ago column from the November 2017 issue of the Socialist Standard

Another year, another autumn, another Labour Party conference. We have, by now, got the message. In 1963, again at Scarborough, Labour heard Harold Wilson say that a better life was just around the corner, as soon as we had a Labour government to set the scientist free.

In 1964 they heard Wilson—then Prime Minister—assure them that, with Labour in power, better times were definitely on the way.

In 1965 Wilson was on the defensive, struggling to justify his government's incomes policy and what he called redeployment—not, he insisted, unemployment. All of this was, he said, a necessary preliminary to the better days which everyone knew lay ahead.

In 1966 it was an outright wage freeze, credit restrictions—in fact everything which under the Tories had been stigmatised as stop-go—which Wilson said must be endured before we could come into Labour's Promised Land.

This year it was the same old story. Better times are coming—in fact, Wilson can actually see the hoped-for improvements which prove to him that we are almost round the corner. But before that, there is a little matter of wage restriction, unemployment and cutting the unions down to size which must be gone through.

So it goes on, year after year.

Party conferences, as everyone now knows, have little meaning other than as exercises in public relations. This year the Labour leaders used their gathering to defend their records and, with one or two exceptions, they did it with diabolical skill.

The delegates accepted it. The wonder is that they never tire of hearing the same weary promises, the same cynical justification of broken pledges, the same old visions of prosperity just over the horizon.

Labour Party members, it is clear, are content that they will never arrive at the Promised Land. But surely even they must see that they are not even travelling hopefully?

(from Review, Socialist Standard, November 1967)

Gambia - Quest for Oil (2004)

From the March 2004 issue of the Socialist Standard

The President of Gambia, Yahya Jammer, who seized power in a military coup more than 10 years ago, recently announced the discovery of oil off shore. He did not name the company, but it is known that an Australian, Perth-based company, Fusion Oil and Gas, which is a holding company for other American and Australian corporations, holds the licence from the Gambian government to carry out deep-water exploration.

No actual size of the reserves have, as yet, been given, but Jammer indicated that an offshore rig would be pumping small amounts before the beginning of 2005. Large deposits of crude oil have also been discovered off Sao Tomé.

Yahya Jammer, in a broadcast, claimed that the discovery would result in "a harvest of prosperity", but did not say for whom. Gambia, with a population of fewer than 1.5 million, is one of the world's poorest countries, with an annual income of £175 per person.

West Africa already supplies the United States with 15 percent of its oil imports and, according to a report in The Guardian (18 February), the share is expected to grow as the Bush administration seeks to reduce its dependence on the Arab states.

Will the discovery, and subsequent production, of oil benefit the workers of Gambia?

More of them may become wage slaves. And the shareholders of the giant oil companies will, no doubt, squeeze surplus value "in a harvest of prosperity" from the workers. The Guardian comments:
"Sub-Saharan Africa is on the verge of a new oil rush, but observers fear that the pattern in Africa’s existing oil exporters, whereby the exploitation of these resources fuels corruption and human rights abuses rather than boosting living standards, will continue."
Peter E. Newell